[WM/H] Lyoss Is Burning

Had a cracking game of Warmachine vs. Hordes last night.

Player: Kapt. Von
Faction: The Master Race Skorne
Casters: 1/1
Points: 35/35
Lord Arbiter Hexeris (*6pts)
* Titan Gladiator (8pts)
* Titan Sentry (9pts)
* Aptimus Marketh (3pts)
Cataphract Incindiarii (Leader and 5 Grunts) (9pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Praetorian Swordsmen (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
* Praetorian Swordsmen Officer & Standard (2pts)
Mortitheurge Willbreaker (2pts)

Player: The Laird Holmes
Faction: Elf Qaeda Retribution of Scyrah
Casters: 1/1
Points: 35/35
Adeptis Rahn Shyeel (*6pts)
* Phoenix (10pts)
Dawnguard Sentinels (Leader and 9 Grunts) (9pts)
* Banshee (10pts)
* Dawnguard Sentinel Officer & Standard (2pts)
Stormfall Archers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (5pts)
Arcanist (1pts)
House Shyeel Magister (2pts)
Mage Hunter Assassin (2pts)

Scenario: Mosh Pit
Nice symmetrical terrain layout: the Pit was ringed by a forest, hill and patch of broken ground on each side at 4″ intervals, and contained a couple of obstructions (big rocks) about 60mm in base area, for interest’s sake. Didn’t matter too much apart from giving the Stormfall Archers elevation and encouraging me to split my forces around the obstruction on my side of the board (with Hexeris hiding behind one for a couple of turns, because I don’t have a pair).

Didn’t take pictures. I had a new caster, new measuring tools and a mogul biryani to manage, and the game took a good couple of hours anyway ’cause the Laird Holmes and I are both… shall we say that we both like to think things over? What with one thing and another I didn’t want to slow affairs down any further.

The lists were gentlemanly, with no FA: C doom pieces besides a bit of caster support, no turn two win buttons – and the play focused on piece trading and Getting Shit Done rather than camping arbitrary areas of the table for abstract points. Doesn’t mean we weren’t playing to win, but we were also playing to make a game of it. When travelling to a venue and paying club fees and so on costs you a good £20 a time before the curry is factored in, you don’t want to spend more time setting up and tearing down than you do actually playing the damn game. When I approach a wargame with this in mind, all the Internet babble fades away and I remember why we’re here.

Once again, some poor Retribution player brought Rahn and then had him clipped by an Incendus shot, spending the rest of the game on fire. Titan Sentries are well hard and Lord Arbiter Hexeris is also a bit fierce – although a list with him at the helm is notably slow after one’s had the luxury of the Supreme Archdomina. I missed my Tyrant Commander and would consider trading two Arcuarii out to put him back in. People who say he’s just Black Spot on a stick aren’t trying hard enough – I have a post prepared on this topic but I want to finish painting the model first. I find it amusing that my supposedly backfield, spellslinging, not-getting-involved warlock ended up making a melee caster kill on his first day out, while my allegedly front-line sword-swinging warlock has yet to draw a blade in anger. Doin It Rong, as ever.

This was also the first game where my Praetorians didn’t make a suicidal run across the table, but settled for edging sideways, fanning out and baiting. They still died – well, half of them died, Marketh was running on a full soul count for turns two, three and four – but they mulched some Dawnguard and chewed up a Banshee a bit. On a related note, his Lairdship deserves a brownie point for being the first person to remove one of my Cataphracts, let alone three.

I am also experimenting with spod sticks for the first time. Thus far they are good for getting right in next to the model, but they break the game’s flow while I count and recount inches and screw/unscrew the measuring tools. There are two sets in different colours, so I’m thinking that it might be a decent idea to prepare an odd numbers stick and an even numbers stick to improve flow.

Profitable evening out. Here’s a photo of some semi-painted Skorne. With a relatively clear week of work ahead I might even try and have everything basecoated (i.e. inked over white primer) by Saturday’s mini-tournament down Firestorm way.

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Hark says they look like they were made by Cadbury’s. I am tempted to stick an eggcup on a 50mm base and present a Creme Egg as my objective marker for Steamroller scenarios. Destroy the objective, and you get the egg. Might do it for the Hydra event next week at least. It’s not like I can think of any other way to represent a Stockpile that isn’t “boring generic crates”.

Event report next weekend, probably. Probably some roleplaying in April.

[Been Painting] Mr Windsor, Mr Newton, Why’d You Close Up Shop So Late?

The following miniatures are the first I’ve painted with the W&N Series 7 brushes that have been languishing in my work tray since Christmas 2013. They were a gift from Hark’s grandmother, and since they were EXPENSIVE and a GIFT and need PROPER CARE I’ve been trepid about actually using them. However, my Army Painters ain’t getting any less knackered and so I bit the bullet and tried them out. I didn’t use them for everything (after having to pluck a few loose fibres from the size 1 while working on the barbarian fellow) – the Army Painters are still broken out for messy, rough work like priming, drybrushing and washing – but the W&Ns have seen some use on everything I’ve been painting this week.

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The Houseguard Thane was executed almost entirely with the new W&Ns. I wasn’t 100% sold on them until I painted his gun and eyes, which went off… perfectly. Absolutely perfectly. First time. Everything stayed perfectly crisp, no bleeding of thinned paint into other regions – nothing of the sort. I don’t know if it’s because I was concentrating harder, being fretful about being slapdash and ruining the brushes, but no – I usually take care with eyes and they often still need two goes.

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The W&Ns also saw some use in layering this Eldritch’s skin (a couple of goes over with Vallejo Ghost Grey) and armour (thinned P3 Radiant Platinum). One thing I have noticed is that the thinner paint and finer brushwork really brings out the ugliness in under-sculpted models like the Sythyss (left) – that potato face is seriously not attractive and there’s not much for the brush to bring out, unlike the severe lines of the eldritch’s musculature.

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This Generic Fantasy Barbarian (TM) is about half done. By contrast to the figure above, he saw almost no attention from the W&Ns, apart from the chains, sword and girdle. I tried picking out the individual lines on his bearskin and hair with the larger of my two W&N brushes, but was rapidly dissuaded when the fibres started to trail and straggle, with a few danglers needing to be plucked off the tip of the brush. Mindful of the time I ruined an Army Painter Hobbyist brush on the first go, I left off after a few minutes and went back to the stalwart AP Wargamers for a spot of drybrushing and inking.

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Nightmare – who was a bit of a sod to snap in the unexpected January sunshine – is another testament to the quality of the W&N brushes. All the runework on his armour plates flowed beautifully once I started to put some faith in the quality of my tools and take my time. The colour scheme’s a bit of an experiment too, as I wanted it to look at least partly ethereal and ghostly-like; the slight mottling that comes from only using a single layer of Vallejo paint over the grey-and-ink primer seems to be helping in that regard, although I’ll need to go back and glaze or at least black-line the plates in its hands. After that… green glow on the facial grille and engine and it’s pretty much done.

I’ve also been taking care to only pick up paint on two thirds of the brush, give it a little twist after rinsing to keep the point, all the stuff you’re supposed to do for brushes but which I need the added slap on the wrist (these were EXPENSIVE and a GIFT don’t RUIN them) to do. I haven’t bothered with actual brush soap but I do give them a going over with squeezy gel and a more gentle rinse than the Army Painters generally receive.

The hobby queue currently stands thus:

  1. Bane Lord Tartarus, 2x Soulless Escorts, Garryth – one area basecoated
  2. Issyria, Witch Coven, Khador Rifleman, objective markers – primed, inked, ready for basecoat
  3. Bane Knights, Cephalyx and Drudges – primed, ready for ink
  4. Fell Bats, Varghulf, Nobz mob – need repairs/finishing/priming, although I’m in no hurry on these – they’re just there to nibble away at when I feel like it
  5. Retribution starter box – needs buildin’

Once I have Issyria and the Soulless painted my next priority will be banging through those Cryxian infantry and Tartarus at a goodly rate of knots – my Cryx are very much a workmanlike, impressionistic project, rather than the more crisp and cartoonish style I’ve adopted for the Retribution. I’d like to have the Cryx totally done by the time Iron Kingdoms Unleashed launches, as I’m interested in that as the first small-and-self-contained project of the year. More on that in my next Frugal Gaming post on the House of Paincakes, I reckon.

[WM/H] Something’s Got To Give

I have a little bit of a dilemma on my hands, boys and girls.

This is the time of year at which money is not abundant, and at which a chap who’s bound to the sell-the-old-to-buy-the-new paradigm of hobbying looks at what’s there and what’s not there and wonders: what can I bear to do without?

I look at my miniatures shelf and I see an increasing lack of space there – especially since I have a new project taking shape on the desk over the room. In particular, I see a lot of Warmachine stuff, which makes me… nervous. It’s arguable that I don’t really benefit from having that much stuff for Warmachine, and that if I’m going to have a diverse collection for that game it’d be better to have one Warmachine and one Hordes faction than anything else. At the moment, I own Retribution and Cryx (and some token Mercenaries, but they’re less a viable faction than a collection of stuff I own for the IKRPG or my other factions, out of which I can technically make a Warmachine army).

I like the look of my Retribution immensely – well, not completely immensely. I like the job I’ve done Ravyn, Kaelyssa and Elara, on the Houseguard and, to a lesser extent, the Dawnguard infantry, and the Stormfall are OK. The Arcanists, the two myrmidons, and Ossyran, though… they’re oddly bad compared to the others, and it’s annoying since I need at least one ‘jack that I’m comfortable with fielding, and the support pieces for it, and since Ossyran’s my favourite Retribution caster it’d be nice if he was my best painted too. I’ve not had much success with the Retribution but the Houseguard and, to an extent, the Stormfalls, have done me proud. The ‘pick one scalable list and stick to it’ project has been pretty successful, although I’d rather have picked Mage Hunters over the Banshee and just stuck to a one-jack army.

I like the style of my Cryx immensely. The monochrome paint job has mostly worked, although I think the job of bridging the gap between casters and troops could have been done better; there’s too much of a stylistic jump between Asphyxious and his minions, too much rich colour to make him sit well with them. I’m settling into a play-style that I like with them; I play Cryx not as a horde but as a handful of scalpels being rammed into the opponent from every direction. The goal in play is not to outfight my opponent but to bypass them in sufficient strength to win by assassination; that’s why I seem to favour Deneghra, Mortenebra and the Coven as casters and battlegroup-focused builds in general. I don’t seem to find myself fielding infantry swarms very often, conventional wisdom be damned.

The problem I have is this whole “two armies for one game which arguably rewards deeper investment in one army” phenomenon. The other problem I have is the nagging itch to do Hordes. I do like the Hordes mechanics. I did like everything about Skorne except painting them and I think I know what went wrong there (I went inside-out rather than outside-in – with my Circle I painted the fiddliest bits at the basecoating stage and everything else was just putting colours around those bits). I could quite feasibly play Trollbloods again; I own enough blighted trollkin miniatures to do some dark, spiky trolls with the addition of, say, Doomshaper and a battlegroup.

What’s telling, I reckon, is that if I look back at my history with Warmachine, I have (barring a couple of years in the middle) always played Cryx, always had that primary faction – and then had something else that I’ve swapped in or out over the years. The Cryx have been the ‘collection’, the thing for which I bother with multiple builds – my off-faction has generally petered out at a single 25 or 35 point list, been played for anything up to a year, and then drifted gently away. Given that track record it’s perhaps not surprising that I’m considering letting the Retribution go… especially since, with the whole ‘one or two heavies and a bunch of infantry’ shtick, I essentially play them like classic Cryx anyway. Could I build a list heavy on Cephalyx or Bane Knights or Satyxis and effectively get my Retribution force within Cryx? Potentially – but I would really miss those Houseguard models.